Blasphemy Day 2011

Rats. Today was Blasphemy Day and I forgot it. I had the day marked on my kitchen calendar and I forgot it!

I did not make proper observance.

I’m not sure what I would have done anyway. I don’t have much day-to-day contact with people these days, not that the day requires some blasphemous behavior around others. The miracle about Blasphemy Day, according to believers, is that even if you whisper the blasphemy into your pillow, or even if you just think the blasphemy, it counts! And here’s what happens:

  1. The Guy Upstairs knows
  2. He puts a mark next to your name
  3. After you die, you’re screwed
    (Before you die, if other believers hear you or see you, you’re screwed)

I can at least provide information about the occasion for those of you who are blasphemy day virgins.

Blasphemy Day, AKA International Blasphemy Rights Day, was founded just a couple of years ago (2009) by the Center for Inquiry. They chose the date of September 30 to commemorate the publication in a Danish newspaper of editorial cartoons featuring the prophet Mohammed and the ensuing controversy, riots, and deaths. Those cartoons were published on September 30, 2005.

You remember the hoopla surrounding those cartoons, right? Muslim groups around the world protested/rioted. Much property was destroyed, many people were killed. All because some editorial cartoonists drew representations of Mohammed, which is considered blasphemous in Islam.

This is hugely silly, which brings us to Blasphemy Day.

The Center for Inquiry created the holiday to spotlight the silliness and to encourage the rational discussion of any topic, even if the topic — and the means of discussing the topic — offends some people.

This is eminently fair, and indeed necessary, for the possibility of any reasonable discussion of anything. Nothing can be immune from discussion and criticism.

Anyway, people around the world are encouraged to practice a little blasphemy on September 30 as a fight against censorship and silliness.

Read more about Blasphemy Day here and here and here.

For people who don’t realize how much craziness exists in the world because of the idea of blasphemy (a victimless crime if there ever was one), here is a brief run-down from Wikipedia (emphasis mine):

Anti-blasphemy laws exist throughout the world. In many parts of Europe and North America they have been overturned, although there are anti-blasphemy laws in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Italy, Liechtenstein, Iceland, the Netherlands and San Marino. There are also “religious insult” laws in 21 European nations.[8]

The Republic of Ireland passed the “Defamation Act 2009” in that year, which states in part, “A person who publishes or utters blasphemous matter shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable upon conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding €25,000.”[9]

Finland has been the setting for a number of noteworthy blasphemy trials in the first decade of the 21st century. The Finnish linguist, political blogger Helsinki City Councellor and subsequent member of parliament Jussi Halla-aho was charged with “disturbing religious worship” because of internet posts in which he called Muhammad a pedophile, Halla-aho was fined €330.

In some countries, blasphemy is punishable by death, such as in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Six US states (Massachusetts, Michigan, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Wyoming) still have anti-blasphemy laws on their books, although they are seldom enforced.

To be clear(er) on what we’re talking about, here is the definition of blasphemy:

  1. impious utterance or action concerning God or sacred things.

Pretty mushy definition, eh? Essentially, people just have to watch their tongues because religious people are sensitive and literally have rules about what you can and cannot say about their deity.

Final note on this topic: Remember that case in Pakistan earlier this year? Salman Taseer was the governor of a Pakistan province who wanted to bring Pakistani blasphemy laws into the 18th or 19th century. On January 4, 2011, one of his own bodyguards, Malik Mumtaz Qadri, shot him 26 times. Qadri announced publicly that he had taken the action because of Taseer’s views on relaxing blasphemy laws. When Qadri appeared in court the next day, he was applauded and showered with rose petals. You can read about it here.

This only goes to underscore how absolutely insane religious beliefs are. Religions build stringent, wide-ranging behavioral laws based on delusions.

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